I’ve always been very sceptical about these robot vacuums, after all how much can a small disc-shaped thing suck up and how powerful can it suck. Plus it doesn’t look like any vacuuming robot I’ve ever seen.
Deebot has been in the vacuum business for quite a while now and are generally acknowledged as some of the best robot vacuums available on the market. When the opportunity popped up to review one it seemed like a perfect time, with a new house, to finally see what all the fuss was about.
Not long after we received the vacuum he (it is a he apparently even though he does have a very feminine-sounding voice) was dubbed Alfred (as in a butler maybe). In the two weeks since then Alfred has become a much valued and indispensable member of our household.
So what is so special about him?
Starting with upgraded Smart Navi™ 3.0 Laser Mapping and Navigation technologies to allow the vacuum to cross over obstacles, a larger battery than previous generations, a large 240ml water reservoir for mopping, the ability to vacuum and mop at the same time along with the ability to perform multi-floor mapping.
It also has the ability to detect carpet and thus increase suction in those areas, or to avoid those areas while mopping. These can come in very handy especially in houses with multiple carpeted areas and rugs throughout like ours.
Of course it is all (and more) controlled by an app and the app is mature, well thought out and easy to use.
What’s in the box?
Open the box and you are presented with a heap of parts and pieces that, if you’ve never used a robot vacuum before, you will have no idea what each of them do. There is:
- Docking station
- Instruction manual and quick start guide
- Side brushes (plus two spare — total four)
- Main brush option (the roller)
- Direct suck option
- Water reservoir
- Washable microfibre cleaning cloth
- Cleaning cloth plate
- Disposable cleaning cloths
- Washable filter (plus a spare)
Was it easy to setup?
You would think that an ecosystem as mature as Ecovacs/Deebots would make it easy to setup. Thinking that you would be wrong, so very very wrong. The issue I had is well known throughout the web. Setup will only work when setting it up with a 2.4GHz network. I have a Google Wi-Fi which uses both 5GHz and 2.4GHz — 5GHz for close to the router and switches to 2.4GHz further from the router. Although every other smart home device says it needs to have a 2.4GHz they still connect — Genio light bulbs are one example of this — the Deebot Ozmo 950 would not connect no matter how many times I tried.
I found two solutions on the net to my issue and I couldn’t be bothered renaming one of the Google Wi-Fi networks to something different (Google names them both the same and just switches from one to the other as required without you noticing) so it was walking away from the house.
Yep, carrying Alfred in one arm and the phone in the other, I walked up the driveway until I was far enough away from the router to switch over to the 2.4GHz network. It was then that I was able to setup the vacuum. Seems extreme but I am far from the first to come across this issue and it to this day remains an issue which Ecovacs must fix.
Once I had Alfred setup it was a matter of figuring out which pieces went in where and what the left over ones were for. The instruction manual is worse than an Ikea manual. There are basically pictures, and very few of them, and that’s it. Luckily there was a lot of online help and FAQs within the app to give me a how to.
Once the basics are mastered the more complicated stuff is easier to figure out — plus the app gives you help along the way. It was a bumpy start to Alfred’s life but once we got the hang of controlling him it was easy and new features were easy to implement.
So how is using it daily?
It’s a piece of cake. He finds its own way home — although there were teething issues the first day when he go stuck under a couch and I had to use the locate function in the app to find him when I got home from work. I ended up making a virtual boundary in the app to prevent the robot from going into that room as well as over the huge hairy rug in the lounge room — see red boxes on the map below.
It does not clean itself which is a bit annoying (/s) but it takes all of a minute to remove the dust tray and empty it and the filter outside or in the bin. The heavy duty cleaning roller got clogged up with hair at one stage so you do need to be careful where it cleans when you have that attachment on. Without the roller it was able to easily navigate through the shag-pile rug in my daughter’s room, when the side brush was tangled from the hair she has left in the rug. This was the first time it had cleaned that room though and I suggest you watch it carefully the first time it cleans anywhere.
The app will let you know if there is anything preventing the robot from cleaning and also show you how to fix it making it dead easy to use. Even drawing the boundaries was easy. Making the multi-level map was not quite so easy as we mapped that out one evening before bed and when Alfred limped back to his HQ that night we figured it would be done. Took him downstairs in the morning only to not have that upstairs map within the app. Eventually it worked though but this may be something to watch if it is important to you.
Google Assistant use was easy to setup and add to my Google Home. Voice commands are very basic but work nonetheless — I suppose though what else do you need to tell a vacuum? Vacuum, pause, stop?
The mopping functionality is easy to implement — fix the mopping attachment to the water reservoir (after filling it up) and the robot automatically detects that mopping is required and it changes to mopping mode. You can change the amount of water it uses but too much will make the wheels slip. I kept it at high and did not have any issues at all, although the water reservoir was very close to empty after mopping my floor. Alfred is also excellent at detecting when it is on a surface not for mopping – rugs, carpets etc, and will not go into those areas while in mopping mode.
Its new wheels allowed it to get up onto all rugs with only an issue once with a rug that curls up at the end a bit. The wheels do lift it off the ground higher allowing better access.
The app gives so many options for the vacuum including power of suction levels to auto-boost suction (for carpet), continuous cleaning (to continue with a clean after it has recharged) and to set a schedule for when it is used.
In the end it is easy to use but also has a heap of functionality to add complexity and thoroughness to the clean.
But how well does he really clean?
It does not pickup as much as a normal Dyson or decent vacuum does, and nor should you expect it to given his size. There are a few threads etc on the floors afterwards still but if you have this going most days it is certainly a great result. On hardwood and tiled floors though it is amazing and does what looks like to be a perfect job, as it does with the mopping.
We would not use the robot vacuum as our primary vacuum before hosting Christmas for the Queen (ie. my mother-in-law) but my fiancee, who is a clean freak, loves it and thinks it is good enough to use and cut down her thorough vacuuming to at least half as much. She is sold on them, and considering she was even more sceptical than I at the start that is a big compliment — she thought he was so handy she was the one who named him.
Should you buy one?
Here is the thing: The Deebot Ozmo 950 is not a cheap robot vacuum but none of the good ones are. It has every feature under the sun (except climb stairs — now that’d be a big selling point) and in the end it really does make a difference to your life.
It has meant that our house is even cleaner every day and we come home each day to a clean house that neither of us had to do more than hit a button in the app to get it done. What more could you ask for? When this review period is over we will be buying one with our own money — that speaks for itself on my opinion of the Deebot Ozmo 950, now affectionately known as Alfred.
Ecovacs’ Deebot Ozmo 950 is available now at JB Hi-Fi, Godfreys and Appliances Online for $999. For more information head on over to the Ecovacs website.